Jo Murray asked about publishing, knowledge sharing and management.
* this recording has a fair bit of background noise.
audio file, 1Mb, MP3, 9:17 m:s, opens in new window.
Writing is seen as separate from what people are 'doing', which is part of the perceptual problem. Most of what they are doing involves consumption or production of information, [2:11] so the problem is not that they are not producing stuff, but the mechanism for collecting is separate from production mechanism.
[2:45] What we need are systems that help you create information while doing whatever you do. It's not about scanning computers for files and harvesting. Stephen's website grew out of a strategy for dealing with information. It can be very simple - as simple as it needs to be for the individual.
[5:00] The notion of sharing does go against current corporate culture, and this hurdle needs to be overcome. Maybe the term publishing is getting in the way.
[5:55] And the question that many of us in elearning have wondered over the years 'how long does OLDaily take to do?' No extra time beyond reading email, making notes about stuff found on the web = 1 to 1&1/2 hours per day.
[8:55] Capture information in a digital format - not pen and paper, but electronic formats.
On Friday 1st October, Stephen Downes ran a freewheeling conversation/ workshop with people interested in elearning in Hobart, Tasmania.
This audio was recorded on my Palm Zire 72 and then a few filters were run over it in Audacity so that most of the background hum was zapped.
I asked some questions of Stephen about how we can integrate work and learning, and about the challenges of using elearning in the workplace.
audio file 1.7Mb, MP3, 14:58 m:s, opens in new window.
[2:30] Embedding learning into work processes using technology is possible. Tech that might help here is REST and RSS.
The question to ask is "how can we add learning into this, into anything?" Writing is frequently a key to this - whether people are writing or using writing. This relates back to Stephen's comments also about knowledge management earlier in the day. Embedding the knowledge management process into daily activity: embedding the learning process into daily activity.
[5:30] Control - who's determining how learning will take place? The objectives of workplace learning are supposed to be about improving ROI or business productivity. [6:30]While the learner's motivators are different eg earning money for holiday. Effectiveness comes back to making learning something a worker would do anyhow - something they want to do for their own reasons. These might be to make their job easier for example, or improves their employability. Has to be to the benefit of the worker.
[8:40] A quiet question was asked about ROI - apart from financial return and how that non-financial return may be measured. Stephen responded that the only relevant measure was the bottom line - but [10:00] the problem is that there is no real direct cause and effect relationship between learning and earnings, or indeed anything and earnings.
[12:00] Modelling a simulation of the business as well as you can and then you play with the inputs to model potential ROI, but modelling is not sufficiently sophisticated in most cases because of the inherent diversity and complexity of business operations.
Thanks to Jennifer Dunbabin and Elisabeth Todd for organising!
Stephen talked about Personalisation in Learning. I had asked what can we do now, with current tools?
Download file, 2Mb, MP3, 17:39 m:s, opens in new window.
Well, first of all it can't be done with the tools at hand.
To achieve personalisation in learning, the first thing is to be very clear about what the end point is - Exactly what do I mean by personalisation? Yes, it will be personal, and there will be some points of collaboration and difference. Once that end point is defined then every possible action can be tested against that end-point. This is really basic decision making and goal setting, but served as a useful reminder to define what I mean by 'personalised learning'.
[5:00] Stephen talked about his view of learner centred learning
So, my definition of personalised learning (for the time being):
- personalised learning is about meeting the needs of the learner, with reference to their best way of learning, and their interests. In the world of VET, this can include negotiation about how a learner will learn, what they will learn and responding to their needs and applying to and working in their context. This links into the discussion that followed on Monday 4th Oct about the right of employers to direct learning.
[7:10] How do you present the range of learning opportunties to a person, and create a mechanism where they can select from these opportunites, and then create an environment where they can take advantage of those opportunities?
The short answer is metadata. Or the long answer is a 'Resource Profile' which is between the resource, the learner (eg FOAF style metadata) and the context in which the resource is used. This is my take on the triad concept.
The challenge is, as always, gathering or creating the description. With a description of each of these points, then learners, contexts and resources can be matched up. The metadata should be retrievable by any part of the network. This idea is explored in more detail in Stephen's paper "Resource Profile" here.
The theory is that if you have any two of the triad (generally the learner and the context), then you can make a reasonable selection. Ideally the metadata will be created as the resource is created, is added to when the learner uses the resource including context of use, finally 3rd party metadata would be added in form of classification or evaluative metadata.
Looking to the future this idea would be extended from just-in-time matching, to [14:08] the networked environment suggesting, and adjusting suggestions about resources that might be useful. These suggestions would change over time as the user and/or their context changes.
[17:15] In building a network, the simpler the individual components the better it will work.
Peter Higgs provided a 'roundup' of the day's topics in summary form
audio file 344Kb, MP3 2:55 m:s, opens in new window.
Janine Bowes has done a summary of the day's workshop here in her blog.
What makes Tasmania unique? He believes this is where our leadership will come from - not from copying what has happened elsewhere. So he asks: What are we striving for? How do we measure the idea of a world leader? Is it size, people, money?
The basic structure of the day was:
Stephen found the Tasmania Together vision a bit vague in relation to education, so he went digging a bit further for education related ones - which he found in the 24 goals . The emphasis in the two ones he found worries him because of the focus on skills and linkages to economic development. He asked the audience: ‘Is this really what education is about?’ 'Democratic and civil society' Goal - maybe this is his reason for coming back to Tasmania?
Despite technology - proportions of online learning are still not high. But this is not really an issue because of the huge numbers of people who use technology for pursuing their interests. Passion and interest are the real, enduring drivers. Economic development will grow out of this and possibly in a better form than otherwise.
Infrastructure is not really a money maker, especially in the early years of rollout due to large investment needed, but it is the key to opening up the future.
Q: We are paid to provide training, we work in an industry driven model, how can we do it?
A: I believe it is a myth that industry can direct training, where industry also tells government not to direct industry. Decisions should be made at the local level where they have their impact, because, you cannot at a central level, take into account all the parameters involved. It is simply too complex. "Industry are no more experts in learning than I am in building a 747". The decision-making should be distributed and localised. No-one person can get predictions right about skills shortages etc - proven time and time again. Relying primarily on industry for decision making input, creates risk.
Q: Government as exemplar in learning - How do we achieve that goal?
A: Not to provide good customers to local industry so why would we bother? Hard to prove value from learning (see here re ROI).
You mentioned people lacking specific knowledge or training needed to do their job - somehow workplace training seems to always focus on needs of the business. Decisions about learning are becoming more and more taken by the learner in a technology enabled world. Contradiction in motivators - focus on business specific skills and learner’s interest in learning. Government needs to get their head around the notion that you have to let control go to the learner, and that the return is not in the learning, but the employee gaining a greater personal benefit in working in that organisation. Greater skills, attitudes and capacities may be related to business' direction but some may not. And that has to be ok.
Q: Emerging term of 'client centred learning’ which refers to learner and employer who both have legitimate interests - What are your thoughts on this?
A: Client centred learning - learner and person who is paying for the learning. How does this come to be the case? Through access provision - ie without employment, learning not possible. If the artificial scarcity of this access is not maintained, then the person paying would not have this right. Access to learning should not be controlled in any way - through charging fees, restricting entry, or through employment. Especially where the money for training has come from government in the first place.
Balance is shifting to more like equity - mutual cooperation for mutual advantage.
Employers should make it clear what the requirements are to fill a particular position. It is advantageous for the employee to develop to make themselves to be more employable. Where there is an imbalance in decision-making then we will not get to this point.
Q: Implications of an ageing workforce implications?
A: Changing demographics are having an impact in Canada too. Lots of knowledge leaving the workforce. If you go to the idea of education being 'tapping into connections and networks', then the experts and mentors are available online. Maybe we should be encouraging those leaving the workforce to become the educators (experts and mentors).
Q: Role of Immigration?
A: Given free trade of goods and wealth, in a world of globalisation, people should be able to move freely also, which frees them from being restricted by the local industry conditions. People need to be able to follow the wealth that shifts around in a globalised, free trade economy.
Q: Bandwidth and content supply?
A: Content is becoming a commodity and there is an oversupply happening. If you have a commodity, which is scarce, then the price will far exceed its value. In extreme surplus, there will be no incentive to manage it (eg fishing grounds being exhausted because there were so many fish). Why do people do things? Because they want to. So much content being produced online for the same reason. The value of content (including software) declines by a 2x magnitude, what was $100 is now $1. So who is going to produce content?
Prevailing business model will be in the area of services that cannot be copied - people are buying experiences and that cannot be duplicated. This is micro distribution - eg concert tapes sold straight after the event only to those people who were there. This will create the post-digital economy - selling the things that cannot be duplicated.
‘Education becomes knowledge based empowerment’
Government-industry partnerships need to be more than government providing the funding, a true partner, 'working with'.
Website to check out for those involved in the elearning industry – http:// www.elearningforum.com - based in Silicon Valley, elearning in this case standing for ‘emergent learning’.
One of the key principles of clustering is communication, and also autonomy at the local level which allows space for competition between cluster members. Mutual exchange of value - capacity and expertise.
We should be moving to a new model focussing on:
Education's roles are to build skills and also, and more importantly, personal empowerment. When learning goes online , the learning can be everywhere, in the community and based upon or founded upon our experience. Stephen sees the Internet as giving mobility, to see further, to gather information as it is needed.
- If institutions lost their monopoly on certification and government funding ceased to exist, what would our institutions look like?
The structure of the internet being a distributed network, with universal access for publishing, decisions occuring in an open-ended environment, should be applied to how we look at learning - one based on communication rather than publishing. A world in which learners are creating a lot of the content. Tasks need to be distributed by the teacher rather than the teacher doing it all - think of the discussion list for posing and answering questions.
Stephen drew some parallels between New Brunswick - e.g. building on current expertise,positioned to offer an alternative to monolithic elearning, network technologies, online learning content and distribution. But Tasmania does need to adapt to a distributed student centred learning network.
Q: What do we do about non-high end learners and elearning?
A: On the bus trip to Strahan, every person on that bus, except for Stephen, had an electronic device of some kind - playing games, texting, listening to music. These people are able to adapt to the Internet, and using it for learning. The question is, why don't they use it then? Because it doesn't relate to their learning needs. Gen Y have little patience for instruction and manuals. Games are incredibly complex, but the learning is embedded in the activity. The issue with current online learning is that it is not well adapted to the learners, so online learning needs to adapt, not the learners.
Q: But aren’t the underpinning skills too complex eg Frontpage or computer games
A: Start out simple - choose the technology that has demonstrated wide adoption and quick implementation, for example blogs. Questions of intent and motivation come into this as well - is the learning selected by the learners? Technology is widely adopted, but not yet elearning technology, because it is not suited to them.
Q: Aren’t there risks in being too open, too learner-directed?
A: Need to distinguish between the credentialling and the education, when considering the growth rates in university enrolments which was given as example of desire for structure.
Q: Whatabout standardisation and learning?
A: Weneed to distinguish between different types of standardisation. Semantic standardisation eg curriculum, within certain parameters everyone receives same education, but this is only really appropriate where people have standard jobs, attributes, aspirations. And life’s not like that.
Papert has said - if it's foundational then the need for it will become apparent in pursuing the non-foundational. Wherever possible, this will be best done through application of the foundational to practical problems.
Q: But, how do you know what you need to know? And what about differences in learning styles?
A: Someone with research skills can identify what is needed to be known to solve a problem. We need to structure education for maximum empowerment and ability to think, reason and learn for themselves. 'Autonomous' does not need to equate to 'unstructured'.
Compare that with IEEE Learning Object Metadata, how many people are really using IEEE LOM?
And the reasons?
Stephen argues that RSS is simple, only protocols about what people could agree on which was very little. Everything is optional in RSS, any tag could be left out, or added in. Even invalid RSS will work in the applications because the people designing those applications know the diversity and chaos.
Q: Should we drop everything and go to open source?
A: Not everything in open source is ready for the prime time. This talk is about having a direction and having a goal. Subtle, slight alterations. Each incremental step takes you closer to the end.
“If we can revise our attitudes towards the land and the earth if we can accept a role of steward and depart from the role of conqueror, if we can accept the view that man and nature are inseparable carers of the unified goal, then Tasmania can be a shining beacon in the dull, uniform and largely artificial world.
The blurb I prepared for my presentation as part of Net*working 2004 Online to be held from 8-19 November by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.
"Through this presentation, participants will gain an overview of:
· Needs of Learners, Employers and Providers
· What is happening currently?
· What does the literature tell us?
· What can we do?
· What are the future directions?
Learners and employers need relevant, contextualised and flexible learning opportunities. Balancing the sometimes conflicting needs of business with the learner's motivations and interest requires skill and insight on the part of the training provider. Embedding elearning or online learning into workplace activity needs to be considered within the context of each industry, just how feasible this is will be explored and some potential applications discussed. Shining exemplars of workplace learning are founded on mutual benefit, with each party recognising their role and contribution to creating a learning environment. Capturing the informal and incidental learning in the workplace is one of the key challenges for training provider staff. Learners need to be supported to identify learning opportunities, and to seek resources and support from a variety of sources. The involvement of a supervisor or more experienced colleague is a key element to many stories of successful workplace learning. Mechanisms for promoting flexibility and true choice in designing a learning pathway are needed to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved. Multiple and diverse tools and strategies need to be combined and recombined over time to meet the needs and aspirations of learners and their employers. Training provider staff need to be supported with communities of practice, ongoing informal and formal development opportunities and organisational structures that scaffold their practice. The area of elearning in the workplace needs to be explored further. Flexibility in workplace learning is not just about where the learning takes place. True flexibility takes advantage of all the possible options for learning, and combines them into a movable feast of informal, structured, ad-hoc, formal and incidental learning that permeates the workplace.
Smith, P.J. 2000 Preparing learners and workplaces in the effective use of flexible delivery for workforce training in AVETRA Conference Papers 2000 - need to find an online source
Many studies have demonstrated learners' lack of preparedness for flexible delivery and low preferences for self directed and text based resources (Smith, 2000, p1). This has been demonstrated across both technology students and apprentices, demonstrating that the findings are not restricted to one field of study (Smith, 2000, p1).
Models for moving towards effective open learning
Smith (2000, p 2) found that learners exhibit:
· "a low preference for self directed learning
· a high preference for learning in contexts that are instructor-led, where the program of instruction is well-organised, and where expectations of learners are made very clear by the instructor,
· a strong preference for learning in social environments, where there were warm and friendly relationships established between the learner and the instructor, and with other learners."
These findings indicate a need for finding mechanisms for providing this structure, communication and collaboration where learners prime mode of learning is on-the-job. As 96% of businesses in Tasmania employ fewer than 20 employees it is unlikely most workplace learners will have opportunities to build networks of co-learners within their own workplace. In addition, with the priority being placed on work productivity rather than learning, what structure may exist may disappear without notice to learners, for example, scheduled training may be deferred or cancelled when sick leave of other workers requires the learner to remain onsite rather than attend training. The potential for TAFE trainers to become virtual mentors, providing support and progress checking on a more regular basis using online technologies may address some of these challenges. For learners who do not attend training courses where they meet and discuss with other learners in their industry, the potential offered by technology for forming communities and networks must be investigated further.
This is a mindmap of some options for workplace learning strategies. The ones marked with red dots are where I see some technology could be used. Click on the image for the full-scale version.
Preparing for Flexible Delivery
by Peter Smith, Lyn Wakefield, Ian Robertson for NCVER 2002
Providers need to make sure that mechanisms are established to assist learners in developing self directed learning skills. This may be an area where the elearning foundation may be able to assist in developing a range of information literacy skills (P9). Another benefit may be through increasing opportunity for contact that is not dependent on f2f physical presence.
A workplace learner’s position in organisation affects the types of choices they are allowed to make about learning; this may include participation, style of activity and subject matter.
The time that would be needed to achieve individual learning plans for all learners is seen as a barrier (p45).
Role conflict - learner vs. worker
Workplace learning can easily be interrupted because of overriding imperatives for production, finite resources, and finite skills ranges. Independent or resource based learning may be seen as time -out more so than on campus training (P23)
Learners “largely become responsible for their own skills development ... and the activities used to develop that skill are largely initiated by them” (p34)
"The literature review indicated that those workplaces which have developed an effective training environment are characterised by the following:
· Development of articulated training policy that indicates the valuing of learning and learners
· Implementation of training structures that provide access to identified trainers and other
· Personnel, and space in the production schedule to enable learning to occur
· Skilling training staff to support:
· Development and management of self-directed learning
· Acquisition of needed skills and knowledge
· Engagement in the community of practice at the workplace to support authentic learning
· availability of learning resources—human, physical, courseware"(P8)
Hawke (1998), like Field (1997), observed that workplaces vary greatly on a range of features, which influence the development, and delivery of formal training programs:
· The extent to which learning is valued and rewarded within the enterprise
· The role of knowledge in setting the competitive climate for the enterprise
· The size of the workplace or site
· The range of products, processes and/or services provided by the workplace
· The capacity and willingness of the workplace to network with other related organisations (p22)
Supervisor involvement increases learner ownership of learning (p59)
Where supervisors were seen by their staff to be taking an interest in staff development, and where the supervisor had taken ownership of that responsibility, there was evidence that staff also took a greater degree of ownership.
So what is the potential of Flexible Delivery in the workplace?
· Considerable customisation
· Wider range of resources - those that are integrated are more effective and favoured more than resource based and independent training models (p20)
· Also needed are clear connections to the context within which the new knowledge is to be used, and access to human interaction that may be provided through mentoring, demonstration, problem solving and opportunity for discussion with fellow workers or learners. (P21)
· Learners able to be close to the action and be able to ask questions
· Classes - because able and encouraged to ask questions (in contrast to workplaces)
· Spiral of responsibility
· Smaller businesses eg hairdressing salons - learners more closely supervised and easier to observe other workers because of physical proximity (P31)
What is feasible?
Summarised from pages 43-47
· New learning is best situated in existing knowledge
· Assistance to learners to understand their learning within the broader context of the workplace
· The development of their own learning goals
· Development and negotiation of their own learning goals - feasibility dependent on setting of learning outcomes and timing of completion
· Discussion to assist in identifying authentic workplace tasks through which learning could be pursued.
· Systems for monitoring the learning that took place
· Learning through scaffolding
· Development of knowledge through a spiral of responsibility
· Use of a broad range of resources for training eg expert others, demonstrations and practice, training resource banks
· Recognition that employees are both workplace and learners.
Barriers to use of flexible delivery in the workplace include:
· It is time consuming
· Supervisors not equipped with necessary skills
· Incongruency with training plans
More detail on page 47
Recommendations are in detail on pages 72- 77
Bunch of articles about various theories from the centre for interactive advertising.
Theories of Persuasive Communication and Consumer Decision Making
Minshull G. 2004 ‘VLEs: Beyond the Fringe and into the Mainstream’, Proceedings of VLEs: Beyond The Fringe... And Into The Mainstream, FERL, Online, February 2004, http://ferl.becta.org.uk/content_files/pages/news_events/events/Online_events/VLEs%20-%20into%20the%20mainstream.pdf
"...both technically and organisationally. It requires a lot of resources, and significant cultural change within the institution." (P5)
· Providing minority subjects in remote areas is a real driver
· showcase for awareness raising
· short sharp sessions
· cascading - people can't be too techie
· "illustrate complementary practice that would enhance the learning and teaching process"(P13)
· surgery approach - available certain times for specialist assistance
· Course team training - peer support down the track and ownership by whole team
· how to guides
· online support
· replace manuals with FAQs
· teachers do not feel involved in VLE selection process
· lack of opportunity to develop a vision or expectation of how to use VLEs
· perception that new technology and additional work is being imposed
· teachers do not feel that their specific needs are being addressed
"practices which may be considered acceptable in a pilot may not be considered reasonable on the larger scale required for mainstreaming" p3
· Support staff need to understand how learners use eg library staff
IT support need to accommodate and plan for usage
Management need to be aware of potential for supporting teaching and learning, financial demands, hardware, software and training - best ways to maximise its potential in any strategy developments.
"Whatever the case, the VLE has to add something to the learning experience for the student, and not just be used for the sake of it. If it doesn't offer something more than the students already get within their classes, then there is no point in them using it" (P26)
Practical steps needed to move from a pilot to the mainstream ? (p7) includes some good quotes including one about staff empowerment.
1. Get the technology right
2. Get the right VLE
3. Understand the costs and support needed
4. Decide how the VLE will be used
5. A supportive Senior Management Team is essential
6. The role of middle managers is also crucial
7. Other key staff should be involved
8. Make it easy for the teaching staff and provide them with good support structures
9. Show staff the advantages to them of using VLEs
10. Use champions (preferably non-IT specialists) to spread the word
11. Provide comprehensive and ongoing staff development
12. Remember the VLE is for the simple things too
13. Don't underestimate the value of the communications tools.
quality control should not become a barrier (p25)
If someone is producing materials solely for their own use, they should have the same quality control procedures as they would use if producing a handout for a face to face classroom session (P25)